Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Science and PR

I have much more to say on this topic, but I'm replying to a comment a friend made to a previous post, and I realized it was worthy of its own post. She said:

"I do kind of disagree with you on the 'science and scientists do not have PR campaigns.' comment. Basically I view a lot of modern medicine to be a PR campaign. Sure I understand that the scientists creating the vaccines aren't necessarily the one's creating the ads but at the same time I often wonder how often medicine gets 'ok'd' just so someone can get their name recognized and the drug put on the market."

She's definitely right that sometimes technology or scientific endeavors DO have PR campaigns. But the pharmaceutical industry and the medical industry are not SCIENCE themselves, but the fruits of research. Companies with an agenda (profit) then take up a scientific "result" and push to get it used or accepted by more and more people so they can "save lives" or "help people" but really, sadly, that is secondary to their primary goal to make more money. I say that because I've seen too many products rushed througH FDA approval and then revoked years later or sold with stringent warnings - from tobacco to DES to DDT to many many more pharmaceuticals that end up in litigation over deaths and injuries.

My main point was that the process of scientific inquiry takes years and many multiple independent studies are required before a concept becomes accepted as a reliable theory with predictive power, like evolution. Even if Intelligent Design WAS "scientific" (rather than having a predetermined conclusion, which makes it not science) it would still be in its infancy, and so their groups' desire to get it into textbooks is as ridiculous as the tobacco industry trying to get into school textbooks that smoking is good for you! However, convincing the public of buying something - whether a product or an idea - THAT is the job of advertisements, which are really just subtle propaganda or "PR". That is why the Expelled movie is not doing intelligent design any favors because it just shows even more that ID is merely a big PR machine and not a genuine scientific endeavor.

If you dig deep enough and are not dead-set on your conclusion, even those convinced either that ID is "God's way" or that evolution is false, can and will see the truth. They usually don't want to dig much though. Many people do not like to challenge their beliefs because it's difficult and uncomfortable.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Evolution Weekend

It's Evolution Weekend and check out the post on the Beacon Broadside, the blog of my upcoming book's publishing house, Dust Off Your Darwin Costume: It's Evolution Weekend! by Glenn Branch. He talks about his book (co-authored with NCSE Director Eugenie Scott), "Not in Our Classrooms: Why Intelligent Deisgn is Wrong for Our Schools." I met Dr Scott when I testified before the Texas State Baord of Education in 2003 regarding the Texas textbook adoption process. She's an amazing person, and NCSE does great work! We're gearing up for another crazy battle this coming school year since Governor Perry appointed Don McLeroy as the chairperson of the SBOE - and McLeroy is a loud and devout creationist.

For an alternative view from a Christian, read my testimony at the 2003 SBOE, which says that evolution and Christianity are fully compatible. Branch and Scott agree with this view. Happy Darwin Day!